It’s no secret that losing weight is a challenge. Since I was young, I have always been on the heavy side. After turning 40, I was at my heaviest—tipping the scale at nearly 300 pounds. This was bad for both my health and self-image; in addition to dealing with looming future medical issues, I felt sluggish and unhappy with my physical condition. My challenge was to create my body transformation after 40.
I finally resolved to make a change, devote myself to fitness, develop good habits, and lose all the fat. Even at my age, I managed to lose over 100 pounds with hard work and determination! So many women and men are in the exact same position I was in. I want to share with you how I did it.
I’m also here to tell you that it is never too late to improve your physical fitness and start your body transformation after 40. I began my weight loss journey in my forties by learning about the risks of being overweight. This made me commit to making real changes to transform my body and improve my well-being. I also learned it requires serious commitment and a plan, and I was ready for the challenge.
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At nearly 300 pounds, I was risking my overall well-being and my happiness. It negatively affected my social life and my mood—I knew I had to make a change.
One day, I read that “People who are severely obese in middle age are 50% more likely to die early than those of a healthy weight. A study in the U.K. of nearly 3 million people found that people with the highest levels of obesity are running a high risk of a range of serious illnesses and premature death.” (Read The Guardian article on their website.) You could say that statistic left me feeling worried yet motivated at the same time.
I was also inspired by my sister’s weight loss journey, which was chronicled over several months in Shape magazine a few years earlier. Between the dire statistics for those who are overweight and the weight loss success stories of others in my life, I was committed to finally reducing weight.
But I was fully aware I wasn’t a kid anymore. Moving my body was going to be much different than it was 20 years ago. I was over 40, and my starting body weight was 297 pounds. Regardless, it was time to finally take action and get more physical activity, get in shape, and focus on proper nutrition. Getting my body fit was the ultimate self-care program and my number one priority.
I knew my fat loss journey was going to be a life-changing process that would include a combination of exercise training and better nutrition. To help me stay on track and form good, life-long habits, I created this list of goals for myself:
1. Wake up early and get workouts in before the day starts. Starting the morning with cardio exercises gives me more stamina throughout the day. Check out my favorite 5 best gym machines to lose belly fat to learn more.
2. Eat balanced meals. Nutrition is super important when it comes to planning your diet. I didn’t just want a temporary diet, I wanted a life change.
3. Drink plenty of water and avoid sugary drinks.
4. Take breaks throughout the day to rest, relax, and rejuvenate.
5. Get enough sleep each night. Getting adequate sleep is important for overall well-being. Lack of sleep can lead to fatigue, decreased productivity, and even reversing weight loss. I found the more I worked out, the better I slept.
6. Avoid late-night snacks.
Once my goals were finalized, the first thing I did was change my diet. I had this crazy (not in a good way) grocery shopping routine. I would buy about half fresh foods, like fruits and vegetables, and the other half were fattening foods that I really enjoyed eating. I would spend the next few days devouring all of the bread, burgers, chips, beer, pizza, and the like. By the time it was gone, the fresh groceries loaded with nutrition had all spoiled. And so, I would go back to the grocery where I repeated this cycle over and again. I eventually learned I needed to balance my diet if I wanted to see real transformation.
Since my first approach to grocery shopping proved to be unsuccessful, it was time to try something new. My first step was to only buy healthy food that would help me lose weight. If I didn’t have bad food in the house, I wouldn’t be tempted to eat it. Believe me when I say it took some getting used to. For example, when I craved chips and salsa, I would have celery and hummus instead. Over the next few weeks, I began to see fat loss results, and I was encouraged. I also started to take photos of myself every month to visually track my transformation. Seeing my progress, even just a few pounds, was super encouraging. In just a few weeks, I noticed my face was slimmer, and I was dropping belly fat. I have some of my favorite recipes for weight loss posted here.
As everyone is different, I recommend that you ask your doctor before starting any diet program.
I wanted to find a way to balance my diet. A good nutrition plan to help with fat loss includes more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, low-fat dairy, unsalted nuts and seeds, healthy fats, and drinking plenty of water. When it comes to food, portion control and deciding when to eat are also important. I also began consuming a protein shake as a meal replacement for lunch most days. Protein shakes are typically low in calories and carbohydrates, and high in protein. I combine in a blender with water, an organic banana, and half an organic Fuji apple. It keeps me feeling full without feeling heavy and helps me stay energized all day.
As the weeks went by, I found my diet program became easier, and my transformation accelerated. I knew that focusing on consuming protein, which helps in fat loss as it makes you feel fuller for longer and reduces the temptation to snack on junk foods, made a huge difference in my progress. I was less and less tempted to eat the foods I needed to avoid like fast food and processed foods, sugary drinks and sodas, fried foods, and refined carbs.
I also began experimenting with intermittent fasting. I started slowly, fasting for 10 hours a day, then gradually increased my fasting time. Intermittent fasting is a great program to lose fat and help your ability to train and get fit. There are different ways to do intermittent fasting, but the most common is to fast for 16 hours and then eat during an 8-hour window. If it’s your first time, I suggest starting slow like I did and increasing your fasting hours over time.
In addition to the foods I eat and intermittent fasting, portion control was key to my weight loss success. It’s important to keep track of the amount you’re eating. That means measuring portion sizes and being mindful of what you put on your plate. Oversized helpings can quickly lead to reversing weight loss, so by controlling your portions, you can help yourself stay on track. Two of my favorite and easiest ways to maintain portion control are by using smaller plates and avoiding eating out at restaurants. Studies have shown that people who use smaller plates eat less food overall. And while we all enjoy dining out, restaurants tend to serve large portions, which can be difficult to control. It’s often better to cook at home so you can be in charge of how much food goes on your plate.
Another tip that worked well for me included cooking with quality ingredients. Cooking at home simply puts you in the driver’s seat for everything—the ingredients, the portions, and the overall quality of your food. Taking breaks between bites, eating slowly, and chewing thoroughly are also great ways to help your body register when it’s full. Incorporating these simple habits will help prevent overeating and keep your calorie intake under control.
For both men and women, one of the most important things you can do for your body transformation is strength and cardio exercises on a regular basis.
This is what helped me reach my goal weight and build muscle. I know it can be tough to find the time, but just 30-60 minutes a day, 4 or 5 times a week will make a big difference. If you’re not sure where to start, read on for my tips.
I started with Walking for weight loss
My fitness level was pretty much zero when I started my weight loss journey. I was so out of shape that all I could do was walk. So, I started walking. I’d walk short distances at first and gradually increased the amount of time I spent walking each day. Eventually, I was able to incorporate other types of exercises into my routine. Changes to my nutrition plan coupled with a more rigorous exercise regimen lead me to begin losing weight fast. People started to comment on my weight loss, which encouraged me to keep going. I was getting excited about my new look, so I kept expanding my workout options.
How to lose weight with a Rowing machine
Considering my limited mobility and flexibility, I bought an inexpensive rowing machine to get more cardio. Rowing machines provide low-impact exercise that works out many muscle groups.
I started my rowing workouts slowly, again gradually increasing as my strength and stamina allowed. I was losing more and more weight. Rowing machines are great for cardio plus I could feel my legs, back, and shoulders gaining in strength.
I have a post on my favorite 5 best gym machines to lose belly fat to learn more.
How I lost weight by Spinning
I’ll be the first to say, I never thought I would like spinning classes. I heard all the hype, so I decided to finally check it out. And I’m so glad I did. It changed my life; I found a great cardio exercise that I actually enjoy! Spinning is what melted away my body fat and kick-started my transition to gain lean body mass.
I started incorporating spinning into my routine and eventually built up to 5 days a week for 45 minutes before work each morning. Not only do I feel super energized after a class and vitalized all day, I also have so much fun in spin class. The pounds began to drop off fast—I lost my love handles and belly while strengthening my legs and core.
Spinning in a virtual class at home with your spin cycle bike is super convenient and a great motivator. I chose the Sunny Health and Fitness Premium Indoor Cycling Smart Stationary Bike for at-home spinning. It’s a great bike with magnetic resistance providing a smooth, quiet ride.
If you’re looking to lose body fat, weight training is a must. This not only helps you burn calories while you’re working out, but it also helps you burn calories long after your workout is over. Muscles require more energy (calories) to maintain than fat, so the more muscle you have, the more calories you’ll burn throughout the day. Protein intake is essential to train yourself to gain muscle strength properly.
As a beginner, I found that buying a lot of weights separately for my small NYC apartment was challenging. So when I found the Bowflex adjustable dumbbells and kettlebells, I knew they were the perfect option. They take up little space and give me the flexibility to adjust weight as needed.
With my oversized body, I was too embarrassed to join a gym. I had dealt with fat shaming most of my life. Strangers avoided making eye contact, and even so-called friends would make jokes at my expense. But I knew it was time to overcome my fear and join a gym where I could learn to work out properly and develop a whole-body approach to fitness. I wanted to gain muscle mass and reach a new fitness level. I got a personal trainer to put me on the right track to lose weight and target muscle gain. Working with an experienced trainer every week provided me with proper technique and even more motivation to improve my strength and keep reaching for my goals.
Many gyms also offer personal training group classes, such as yoga, Pilates, and Zumba. These classes can be a great way to get started with weights or to add some variety to your current workout routine. Along with circuit training, aerobic exercises, and weight training, I began boxing, spinning, weight lifting, and swimming. My energy levels were higher. I was thinner and increasing muscle mass. I felt (and looked) better than ever week after week.
When looking for a gym to lose weight, be sure to ask around for recommendations. Ask friends, family members, or coworkers if they have a favorite gym and what they like about it. You can also check online reviews to see what other people are saying about different gyms in your area.
How to work out at home
During the pandemic, I decided to work out at home. I already had a rowing machine and some hand weights. Next, I added a spinning bike, a suspension trainer, and more weights. I can get a great workout with this setup. I have a post on my favorite 5 best gym machines to lose belly fat to learn more.
I love working out from home now. What’s better than saving money on a gym membership? Investing it in your home gym! Having my own home gym is super convenient and I am even more motivated to work out. With online classes, it’s easy to find inspiration and a great workout community.
Building your support team is important for long-term success with weight loss. You should have friends or family members who are supportive of proper nutrition and exercise goals. In fact, research has shown that a support system is key to sustainable lifestyle changes in the future.
However, a few people in your life may not be supportive, so bear that in mind as you go through your journey. But overwhelmingly, I have close friends, both women, and men, who are super supportive of my lifestyle changes. Their encouragement makes me feel better about myself and motivated me to work even harder to achieve my goals.
What’s a great way to find people who are on board with helping you reach all those fitness dreams?
Ask them if there’s anything you could do together! Doing physical activities together is a great way to bond and build relationships with like-minded people.
It can be tough to stay consistent when working out, especially when you’re doing it alone. One way to help yourself stay on track is to hire a personal trainer who can design a workout plan that’s tailored to your individual needs and goals. They can also provide support and accountability to keep you consistent. My first trainer was experienced with clients who are just starting out. We worked on the correct form for the various exercises, which provided me with a strong foundation. Measuring my progress as I continued to lose weight was the best motivation.
Another way to motivate yourself to work out is to view it as self-care. Exercise can be a great way to relieve stress and improve your overall well-being, so make sure to schedule time for it in your week. And finally, don’t forget to give yourself some credit! Even if you only have time for a short workout, remember that every little bit counts.
After a workout at the gym, I enjoy the hot tub, the sauna, and the steam room. It does add a spa-like experience to my workout self-care routine.
How to reward yourself for reaching your goals
Celebrate your accomplishments along the way. Every five or ten pounds lost, reward yourself with something special that won’t sabotage your hard work.
For example, I would treat myself to a new pair of blue jeans as I dropped the inches off my waist. Every time I could fit into the next size down, I would feel happy. Rewards don’t have to be big or expensive. Just choose something that gives you a little joy as you reach your goals.
Read more about how I included weight loss rewards to get some great ideas!
I feel better. I am happier. I have an optimistic outlook for my life and well-being.
Finding success with my fitness goals has given me the body I wanted. At my ripe old age, I lost all the weight I wanted to. My body is in its best shape ever.
I created my body transformation after 40, I got rid of my fat and I increased muscle mass.
I hope, by learning my story, you may find that losing weight and getting fit becomes easier.
It is so worth it!
I hope you stay active, healthy, and happy!